Fort Smith is working to trim $1.5 million from its budget this year. The cuts are coming directly from the general fund which means the police and fire departments, along with the parks department are facing budget cuts.
“The general fund projections haven’t been coming in as we anticipated,” explained Fort Smith Deputy City Administrator Jeff Dingman. “We do a conservative budget estimate but sales taxes, which is a large portion of our general fund budget, have come in behind estimated revenues.”
As a result, the Fort Smith parks system has to cut back nearly $180,000 of their budget for the year according to Parks and Recreation Director Mike Alsup.
“The biggest thing the public will notice is that we’re going to close the pool [at Creekmore Park] an hour early Monday through Saturday,” Alsup said. “The other things they’re probably not going to notice as much.”
Between closing the pool at Creekmore Park an hour earlier and cutting back on seasonal help, Alsup said the parks department will be able to meet the needed adjustments. Other cutbacks include money spent on lawn maintenance and upkeep.
“We’ll be able to keep the lawns mowed both at the parks as well as at Oak Cemetery,” Alsup explained. “But we will be cutting back on other maintenance projects, like the trimming and edging work.”
Previously, Alsup said they had thought about closing wading pools at Tilles and Woodlawn Parks to reduce a portion of the operating costs this summer. However, those two wading pools will be open throughout the season. That was part of the reason why pool hours were reduced.
Alsup also added that the pool will be closing a week earlier than in previous years. It is still scheduled to open as usual Memorial Day Weekend.